Christensen Automotive | Gardnerville 775.782.2605 , Carson City 775.882.8888, Reno 775.322.8100, South Lake Tahoe 530.544.9940, Fallon 775-423-5455

HIGH MILEAGE CAR CARE

According to Edmunds.com, owners are keeping their cars longer than they did a few years ago, a trend that is expected to continue until the economy rebounds. The U.S. Department of Transportation says an average car should last about 13 years and 145,000 miles before its scrapped. As a vehicle’s ages, its performance decreases and oil starts to break down at a faster rate. Over time, seals begin to deteriorate; gaskets become brittle, leaks become more prevalent and oil consumption increases — all leading to a reduction in engine performance. As more of the nation’s cars exceed 75,000 miles and approach the 100,000-mile mark, regular maintenance becomes an increasingly important way to prevent costly car repairs.  As a vehicle ages it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. Don’t rely solely on more general recommendations, and certainly not the “dealer’s recommended schedule,” which will cost you more than necessary. Following the manufacturer’s schedule carefully not only means fewer problems as a car ages; it also prevents the manufacturer from ever voiding your warranty based on “neglect.” Also make sure you keep records of all maintenance and repairs for your vehicle. These maintenance schedules work for vehicles getting normal use, but many people put extra stress on their vehicles. Manufacturers will also provide a severe use maintenance schedule. Any of the following qualifies as “severe” use, which may require shortening the normal maintenance cycle: Towing.  Off-road driving.  Driving through dust storms or in dusty conditions.  Frequent, short (less than 5 miles) trips or frequent stops and starts.  Cold climate operation. Some other tips to help make your vehicle...

Servicing a manual transmission

The manual transmission system is pretty simple in comparison to its automatic cousin. Their gears are located along parallel shafts inside the transmission housing. Power flows when gears are meshed. During gear changes, or when the car is stationary and the engine is idling, a clutch is used to interrupt the flow of power from the engine to the transmission. However, if you are experiencing issues the symptoms are similar to the automatic, and include: slipping, hesitation, bucking, grinding gears and difficulty shifting. Unlike the automatic however, where you actually have to flush the fluids with a machine for preventative maintenance. The manual requires a simple, in comparison, drain and fill of the transmission fluid.   Most manufacturers recommend that manual transmission fluid be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Under heavy-duty use, such as towing or stop-and-go traffic, some manufacturers suggest changing transmission fluid every 15,000 miles. This is because the transmission fluid provides lubrication to gears, bearings, shafts, and other internal components. Heat, pressure and friction can slowly breakdown the additives in the manual transmission fluid and contamination occurs over time as the synchronizers, bearings and gears in the transmission wear out. The resulting metal particles then float around in the lubricant. And we all know that oil with microscopic particles of metal in it does not lubricate as well as clean oil. So if these contaminants are not drained out, they will shorten the life of your transmission. Checking the transmission fluid in a manual transmission can be difficult. A few thoughtful manufacturers have included a dipstick, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. If you...

Deciphering Engine Oil

When purchasing replacement oil for your vehicle the story is short and simple, follow the guidelines provided in your owner’s manual for optimal performance. The rest of the information in this article explains some of the differences you will find in the many types of engine oil available on the shelves today. Engine oil, also known as motor oil has to perform several functions including lubricating moving parts, helping to cool the engine and cleaning dirt and sludge deposits from the engine reducing friction and wear. Because it must do these jobs simultaneously today’s motor oil is made up of a complex chemical formula and should be changed regularly according to the guidelines put forth in your owner’s manual. Quality oils carry up to three certifications from three different organizations. These certifications indicate that the oil met the testing and content requirements of these organizations. The most well-known is the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) “starburst” and “donut.” The outer ring will say “API SERVICE” followed by two letters, for example “SM”.  “SN” is the most current API Service Category available. If the service rating starts with a “C,” it’s for diesel engines. The second is by ILSAC and works with API with the added requirement of fuel economy. The third certification was developed by the Society of Automotive engineers to rate the thickness of the oil. It’s expressed by four or five characters, such as 10W-30. The lower the number before the W (for “winter”), the better it flows in cold temperatures. The number after the dash indicates how well the oil flows when it’s warm. Many manufacturers currently...

SUPER-HUMAN? NO, THAT’S THE WONDER OF POWER-STEERING

Pint-for-pint, the one or two quarts of power steering fluid required by your car is probably some of the least appreciated fluids under the hood. Considering what it does, and how much a motorist depends on it, we’re talking about the lifeblood of your steering system. Yet keeping it clean and doing its job doesn’t require all that much effort. Servicing it involves draining or flushing out your car’s old power-steering fluid and then adding fresh power steering fluid. Mike Bumbeck of Automedia.com explains that the power steering system brings together the strength and power of hydraulic pressure with the mechanical miracle of steering linkages. The power steering pump pressurizes the power steering hydraulic system. The power steering fluid runs through hoses and by way of valves, and plungers or pistons move the mechanics of the steering back and forth as you turn the wheel. Regardless of the vehicles set-up, the power steering system will fail if the pump cannot generate the pressure required to push the steering parts of the suspension back and forth. The fluid is the cheapest component of your power-steering system. Changing it can help to prolong the life of other, more expensive power-steering components such as the power-steering pump and the stratospherically expensive power-steering rack. The function of power-steering fluid is basic: it transmits hydraulic pressure to make steering easy while protecting and lubricating parts at the same time. These demands take their toll on the fluid and break it down, which can lead to inconsistent performance and expensive component failure. You should change the fluid as outlined in your owner’s manual but otherwise...

Benefits of a Rebuilt Engine

Here is a scenario for you. There is a strange “knocking” or pinging coming from the engine, or perhaps your check engine light is flashing, or oil pressure has just suddenly dropped. You have taken it to your mechanic and he has told you that you need to replace the engine. What do you do? Your first reaction may be “how am I going to afford to buy another car?”  Your vehicle engine is comprised of a number of moving parts that are subjected to incredible temperatures and pressures on a daily basis, which, not surprisingly after 100,000 miles or more (hopefully) can show signs of wear and tear even if properly maintained, if your vehicle is not regularly maintained or overheats excessively this timeframe can be significantly shortened.  When faced with major engine repairs you have a few options:  1. Trade the vehicle. Your trade-in (current vehicle) value is reduced because of the damaged engine. If trading for a used vehicle with a used engine you could be purchasing one with “unknown and potentially costly” maintenance issues. Also, new vehicles are expensive.  2. Patch job. Depending on the type of engine damage, you could consider fixing the specific problem. But, this is usually expensive and there are no guarantees that another engine-related failure won’t occur.  3. Used/Junkyard engine. You could swap your engine for a used engine from another vehicle. The downside is that you don’t know the history of the used engine. Although “used/junkyard” engines may be warranted, the labor to replace one with potential problems can escalate the engine repair bill.  4. Factory Remanufactured. These engines...